By Sean Hartnett
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Let me take you back to 1995. That’s right, 1995 — back when NBA Jam ruled the arcades and you were probably listening to Mobb Deep and rocking a flat top.
After being drafted third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1995 NBA Draft, Jerry Stackhouse was drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan.
Both stood six-foot-six, each had tremendous leaping abilities, shaved their heads and were drafted third overall after leaving the North Carolina Tar Heels for “The Association.” Slam writer Scoop Jackson heightened the comparisons by declaring Stackhouse as the player who would carry the NBA and proclaimed him as “The Next Jordan.”
Not an easy tag to live up to. While Stackhouse never became the face of league, never mind coming anywhere resembling the sacred legacy “His Airness,” he carved out a very respectable NBA career and is a valuable piece for the Brooklyn Nets at 38.
Stackhouse is the seventh-oldest active player in the NBA. He’s often been labelled as an NBA coach in waiting, but his competitive fire hasn’t diminished. Stackhouse can still play and he’s shown it by playing an important role off the bench for the Nets in consecutive victories over Atlantic Division rivals.
He’s still talking in the third person and still gunning for that elusive NBA championship ring.
“When I come down the court and I don’t feel like I can still jump and dunk the ball no more, then yeah, it’s time for Stackhouse to retire,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
Stackhouse was automatic against the Knicks on Monday, shooting 4-for-5 from three-point range and 4-for-6 overall. The Nets’ veteran scored 14 points including a crucial tie-breaking 3-pointer in overtime that seized the momentum as Brooklyn went on to defeat their intracity rivals 96-89.
Wednesday’s 95-83 victory over the Boston Celtics will be remembered for its skirmishes and ejections, Stackhouse was sizzling again and led a bench unit that scored 47 points.
Stackhouse sunk five of six shots from three-point territory, finishing with 17 points. He also made three hustle steals, showing “Stack” still has a lot of energy at 38.
The Nets’ victory in Boston was another statement win for a team that has found a new identity in Brooklyn. Stackhouse has help mold the Nets into a group that competes hard every night and one that showed a killer instinct against the Celtics.
For a player who’s been on the wrong side of trades and saw many of his former teammates win championships, perhaps Stackhouse’s best chance of winning an NBA title has come in the twilight of his career.
Nets fans, how pleased are you by Stackhouse’s contributions? Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.